Subiaco, Italia + La Rocca Borgia

I don’t know what I was expecting from Subiaco, Italy – but it wasn’t any where near as wonderful as what I found… After a quick breakfast we left Rome and 40 minutes later found ourselves in the north of Lazio – in the tiny mountain village of Subiaco. Even though this picturesque village is small,  it was the first place in Italy to create a print, the birth place of Lucrezia Borgia (of THE Borgia’s), and where St. Benedict’s monastery is carved from the mountain. After a nearly 4 hour lunch with a table full of Rome’s literary elite (I concentrated on the food opposed to the conversation) we set our compass up – to the monastery of St. Benedict. Even though today you can drive up the mountain, you still must park well bellow the monastery and make a bit of a pilgrimage to reach the actual site where St. Benedict lived in a cave. While there was no photography allowed in the actual monastery, I was able to take this picture right before we entered. St. Benedict lived in a cave for two years before the monastery was built, the winding stairs that descend here and there, the many arched ceilings, the rocks used as tiles for pictures all allude to the cave you can still visit today. The frescoes are all from the Medieval period and many of them had light inscriptions – graffiti if you will. I was intrigued to see Marco 1786, or 1845 lightly carved into the painted mountain stone. Pietro did not find this as amusing. It was finally time to leave the monastery and go La Rocca Borgia, the birthplace of Lucrezia Borgia and the location of the award ceremony. The villa (palace, I suppose) sits high above the village, offering a view of all the valley. We arrived with just enough time to sneak off as a family (we had a host) and sit in a tiny garden that sits between the house and the face of the cliff. It wasn’t a beautifully tended garden as it was over run with trailing flowers – but it was peaceful. The wind our only companion. Above the small garden presides the grand clock, which you can see at the bottom of the mountain. One of the things I enjoy most about living in Italy is that the Italians aren’t afraid to “live” with their past. Frescoes are rarely roped off, and rooms infrequently have those little velvet ropes barring your entry. While the conference gathered in another room of the villa I explored alone… The house of this long ago, near princess, is in sad need of repair. Peeling frescoes, flowers growing in cracks on the ceiling. And perhaps it is for these things that there is a certain magic about. The walls and rocks used to build this palace are so thick that silence washes the house no matter where you are. Each room offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, the village bellow, the blue sky. Eventually I found my way into the part of the house that was being used for the ceremony. I tried to be as inconspicuous as I could taking pictures of the gorgeous ceiling. The frescoes that should have bathed the walls were peeling and faded. After Pietro read a selection of his poetry (I will try to post a translated poem sometime) it was time to celebrate. Prosecco, small snacks, Florence’s favorite – chips all served in the small area that is in front of the villa (remember, the house is basically at the tip-top of mountain, thus there isn’t much of a “yard”). We left, hand in hand, Florence’s stroller being pushed by two important Italian poets. The sun was just setting over the valley… And the fireworks I was afraid to miss in Rome (it was Rome’s patron saint day)? Just as we pulled over the bridge in the historical center, we looked up. In front of us sat Castel Sant’Angelo – and a million dancing fireworks.


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Kara Bout It